Friday, August 13, 2004

Unwelcome and expendable Jews

The remembrance of the Warsaw uprising is cause for Rafael Medoff to remind us all how the allies consciously left millions (YES, MILLIONS) of Jews to die in the last half year or so of WW2.
Much research has been done wether the Allies knew of the ongoing Holocaust, and if so, wether they could have done anything about it.

The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes.

The Allies' knowledge is a matter of record. As for their capacity:
Auschwitz is most infamous for its Birkenau section, where the gas chambers and crematoria were situated. An estimated 1.6 million people were murdered there. Less well known is that Auschwitz also contained dozens of slave labor camps. One was known as Buna-Monowitz, where the Germans had set up factories for the production of synthetic oil, which was crucial to their war effort. In the summer of 1944, U.S. and British bombers began hitting the oil factories. On August 20, they dropped over 1,300 bombs on the oil factories of Auschwitz, less than five miles from the gas chambers.
But there were powerful forces in play that dreaded an influx of Jews into the US or UK:
The real reason for the refusal was that the War Department had already secretly decided, back in February 1944, that as a matter of principle it would never use military resources "for the purposes of rescuing victims of enemy oppression." This policy was in accord with the policies of President Roosevelt and his State Department, who feared that saving Jews would create pressure to bring them to the United States. One internal State Department memo specifically warned against the "danger" that the Nazis "might agree to turn over to the United States and to Great Britain a large number of Jewish refugees."
One thing Medoff does not mention in his article is a much overlooked possibility: Implementation of the Balfour Declaration. A national home in Palestine (then a British Mandate) for the Jews. Adopted and sanctioned by the League of Nations (predecessor of the UN). It was all official, a done deal. There was even a window of opportunity when Hitlers first choice was to see all Jews leave.

Except that the British didn't want the Jews in Palestine anymore then they wanted them in Britain. The British put Jews in concentration camps on Cyprus before the Germans ever thought of it.

So it was better to let the Germans have their way with the Jews. Better for everyone involved (except of course the Jews, but they'd all be dead soon anyway). No one wants the Jews.

Officially the Allies stated they simply were not in a position to rescue or even aid the Jews, it would draw resources away from the vital war effort. The real reason was political: An election was coming up (isn't there always?), and
The Poles were viewed by FDR as an ally -- and as a people whose relatives in America constituted an important voting bloc in a presidential election year. Roosevelt administration officials feared Polish-American voters would turn against FDR in November if they believed he was ready to abandon Polish aspirations for independence and permit the Soviet occupation of postwar Poland. In his private diary that summer, senior State Department official Breckinridge Long wrote that Polish-Americans were "popping off in a nationalistic (Polish) direction" and "they may hold the balance of power in votes in Illinois, Ohio, and New York -- and Pennsylvania..."

By contrast, Roosevelt believed (correctly) that he had the Jewish vote in his pocket. Convinced the vast majority of American Jews would vote for him anyway, FDR felt no political pressure to bomb the gas chambers, or loosen America's tight immigration procedures, or even to ask England to open Palestine to Jewish refugees.
So the best thing to do for Roosevelt was to do nothing. The problem would take care of itself. Or more precisely, the Germans would. And did.

Half a million Hungarian Jews died in the last few months before the Russans liberated Eastern Europe. According to some estimates, there were days in Auschwitz when 20.000 people were gassed and burned. The Germans were all but defeated, but they had this one last, important thing to do.

And the Allies let them.

Medoff closes with saying the Warsaw uprising (and the Allies' effort to aid them) should be remembered with honor, and the Allies' refusal to aid the Jews in the same way should be remembered with shame.

Shame doesn't do it for me. The people responsible for letting the Jews perish lived long and prosperous lives, had airports named after them, and leave as a legacy a modern US State department with exactly the same mentality. Shame is meaningless, and certainly worthless if it doesn't effect real change. As long as anti-Semitism and opportunistic pragmatism go hand-in-hand as the leading principle in US and UK foreign policy, the West will keep returning to shame. The current Enemy of the Jews is Islam. Sworn to annihilate Israel. And again the West is bending over backward to accomodate.

Until all Jews are dead.


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